Felix Bailer, VP of Global Business Services (GBS) at Vertiv responsible for over 1,200 professionals across multiple regions and functions ranging from the traditional finance, HR, and IT to engineering and R&D. More specifically in Romania, we heading towards 400 professionals in our Cluj site.
How did you start your career? Which were your first steps? How did you envision your career?
To say that I planned to build a career on the industry is a stretch. What is important about my first steps is that I kept trying different things and focused on learning. From 16 to 30 years old, it is hard to call it a career… It was rather a series of jobs and opportunities that were worth pursuing meanwhile a bulk of my free time was spent around professional courses, learning new languages, and trying different ideas.
What were your key career moments (those that had an impact on your professional journey)?
Most of them were milestones in this journey, but 3 highlights are worth mentioning:
Back in Brazil I started selling paintings from door to door around the age of 16. Growing up as an introvert, you can imagine how much this job took me out of my comfort zone. As basic as it was, it helped me deal with the struggles of talking to strangers and in-public. It’s true I did not sell a single painting for 6 months, but to this day I still cannot put a price on the fundamentals that first job taught me.
I would not be here without all the lessons I absorbed after being fired. And don’t get me wrong, at the time I saw it as a step back. However, thinking retrospectively, how many opportunities would I have missed if I had spent more time in a certain place? The learnings from those mistakes and chances taken put the firing in a different light years later.
And last but not least, the continuous learning. After high school, college was beyond my budget, so I focused on taking English courses and different professional trainings. A couple of years later my English and business acumen were proficient enough to land a job to sell to the U.S. market. This opened up the opportunity to relocate and completing my MBA in the States… long story short, continuously learning prepared me for upcoming opportunities.
Why did you choose Business Service Industry? What were top 3 reasons for choosing Vertiv?
After 10 years in the Business Service Industry and having had exposure to over dozens different organizations, I got a chance to better understand on how to spot value and not get carried away with corporate myths.
- Vertiv is extremely well positioned for growth and relevance. As we often read nowadays, data is the most valuable commodity of the 21st century and Vertiv’s focus on building critical infrastructure opens the door to a market of exponential growth.
- As we zoom in on the decision process, it was all about the organizational culture. We are a new company (slightly over 3 years old), which recently spun off after being built from several organizations. How do you not only keep it together, but also position it for growth? Transformation had to be the name of the game. The context combined with the management vision formed a culture that I personally enjoy… forward looking, innovative, people- and customer centric.
- The role was actually something I was looking forward to it. Getting the chance to lead a global function that is so closely connected with the organization transformation roadmap, is an amazing opportunity. Not to mention that our GBS rolls up to our CHRO which is very unique for the industry and translates to a balanced approach between business focus and our people development.
What are your/your company’s plans for 2020?
Vertiv has just been listed on the New York Stock Exchange this February. Naturally that is a very exciting event that fits well our evolution process. As for our function, the GBS, 2020 is a promising year. Not only we moved our center in Cluj to a new downtown location, we are also focused on driving process transformation, and growing our center with lots of opportunities on the way. We believe in investing in the community, therefore we are currently supporting various CSR causes and also we are preparing the future talent pipeline of Cluj through 2 programs where we aim to develop early talent (graduates or about to graduate) so that they take complex roles in our industry.
What do you think would be the keywords of the year for managers in the Business Services industry? Automation? Cutting costs?
There is a “corporate myth” that BPO and Shared Services tend to be transactional in nature and the value is basic cost reduction. However, cutting costs is just the tip of the iceberg. Supporting and helping the business innovate and disrupt is what will make us unique. Helping the business with proactive analytics and advisory, with finding new opportunities to grow revenue and reduce overall company cost, with leading disruption is the future of this industry.
With that said, the three words that come to mind are:
- Outcome: it is overdue that shared services and GBS organizations make it part of the daily deliverables the implication of our activities to the business. From how it impacts our customer and stakeholders to how it impacts company results.
- Intelligence Operations: it is more than automation or digital. It is a pragmatic way to rethink how activities are delivered with the outcome in mind. It may mean process disruption in certain activities while it may mean automation in others.
- Scalability: a great idea that solves one market unit problem on the context of a global organization is a missed opportunity. Being able to scale these ideas and moving alway from “island of excellence” is critical.
Tell us a little bit about your private life. Tell us about your passions, family. What do you do to relax?
Really enjoy playing with my 6 year old son. From playing football around the house to go hunt for Pokemon, we do a lot of things together. One of my favourite part of our routine is putting him to sleep. There he gets to ask 10 questions that he has about that day, and he comes up with great questions. It is a lot of fun! I also have the habit of getting up around 5am so I have a couple of hours of free personal time. With it I try a number of different things: listening to podcasts, reading the news, developing new ideas, researching topics that catch up interest, trying to exercise, struggling to meditate, etc.
What are the top 3 skills that you would develop? What would you do and what would you avoid doing? – practical advice to young professionals.
While there isn’t a checklist that works for everyone, I actually believe individuals should experiment a few different functions and industry in the early stages of a career. From there focus on understanding what brings enjoyment on your job. For some people may be flexibility for others stability. For some is working alone for others is lots interactions.
Definitely avoid work that feels like a drag to go to. It will be virtually impossible to build a career on something you actually dislike.
Worth mentioning that the great majority of the jobs involve working with other people; therefore, if I was to recommend skill to develop, they would be around dealing with other individuals. You can’t go wrong by developing skills like empathy, active listening, and how to articulate a message based on the audience.